Skip links

The American Civil War: Facts and Timeline

The American Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Eleven southern states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America. The Confederates fought against the United States federal government, which comprised all the free states and the five border slave states.

The American Civil War was a trans formative conflict in the history of the United States. Despite having ended well over 100 years ago, the war is a permanent part of the national consciousness. It had implications that echo today in conversations about Civil Rights, partisan politics and the power of a federal government.

Military Casualties: 620,000

Civilian Casualties: ~1,030,000

Military Deaths from disease: ~413,000

Civilian Casualties (% of US population): 3%

Union Troops: 2,100,000

Confederate Troops: 1,064,000

Causes of the Civil War

1. There were many reasons for a Civil War to happen in America. Political issues and disagreements began soon after the American Revolution ended in 1782. Between the years 1800 and 1860, arguments between the North and South grew more intense. One of the main quarrels was about taxes paid on goods brought into this country from foreign countries.

2. In the years before the Civil War the political power in the Federal government, centered in Washington, D.C., was changing. Northern and mid-western states were becoming more and more powerful as the populations increased. Southern states lost political power because the population did not increase as rapidly. As one portion of the nation grew larger than another, people began to talk of the nation as sections. This was called sectionalism. Just as the original thirteen colonies fought for their independence almost 100 years earlier, the Southern states felt a growing need for freedom from the central Federal authority in Washington. slaves

3. Another quarrel between the North and South and perhaps the most emotional one, was over the issue of slavery. America was an agricultural nation and crops such as cotton were in demand around the world. Cotton was a plant that grew well in the southern climate, but it was a difficult plant to gather and process. Labor in the form of slaves were used on large plantations to plant and harvest cotton as well as sugar, rice, and other cash crops.

Who Fought in the Civil War

United States of America (Union) led by Abraham Lincoln, Winfield Scott, George B. McClellan, Henry Wager Halleck, Ulysses S. Grant, Gideon Welles.
Confederate States of America (Confederacy) led by Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard, Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Stephen Mallory

What Were the Northern (Union) States

There were 20 northern states in the union and 5 border states during the American civil war.

CaliforniaConnecticutDelawareIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMissouriNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew YorkOhioOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandVermontWest Virginia, and Wisconsin.

What Were the Southern States

The Confederate States of America was an unrecognized state set up from 1861 to 1865 by eleven southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S.

South CarolinaMississippiFloridaAlabamaGeorgiaLouisianaTexasVirginiaArkansasNorth Carolina, and Tennessee. Some had dual governments such as Kentucky and Missouri. Some were outlined as border states such as DelawareMaryland, and West Virginia. Finally there were two territories, Oklahoma and Arizona

What Color Uniforms did the North Wear

Images of the uniforms for the north can be found here. The colors were dark blue and white for the coat and pants. The accessories included brown leather and with gold accessories colors.

What Color Uniforms did the South Wear

Images of the uniforms for the south can be found here. The colors were a light gray with gold accessories on the uniforms.

List of the Battles

The Civil War was one of the defining moments in American History and had many important battles that helped shape what America is today.
Battle of Fort Sumter
The Battle of Rich Mountain
First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas)
Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac
Battle of Shiloh
Battle of New Orleans
The Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks)
Battle of Harper’s Ferry
The Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Fredericksburg
Second Manassas Battle
The Second Battle of Bull Run
The Battle of Chancellorsville
The Siege of Vicksburg
The Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chattanooga
The Battle in the Wilderness
The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse
The Battle of Cold Harbor
The Siege of Petersburg
The Battle of Atlanta
General Sherman’s March to the Sea
The Richmond Campaign

How Many Confederate Soldiers Fought in the American Civil War?

There were about 1,064,000 solders that fought for the confederacy during the American Civil War. In total 93,000 killed in action, 260,000 total dead, 137,000+ wounded.

How Many Union Soldiers Fought in the Civil War?

There were approximately 2,100,000 solders that fought on the site of the union states. Of the just over 2 million soldiers 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded.

Timeline of the Civil War

May 6, 1861: President Abraham Lincoln declares a state of insurrection in the southern states.
May 21, 1861: North Carolina is the 10th state to secede from the Union.
May 21, 1861: Richmond, VA. becomes the official capital city of the Confederate States.
June 8, 1861: Tennessee is the 11th state to secede from the Union.
July 21, 1861: Confederate forces win the 1st Battle of Bull Run.
October 22, 1861: The transcontinental telegraph is completed.
March 9, 1862: The 1st ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack , meet at the Battle of the James River (resulting in a Union victory).
April 7, 1862: Union forces win the Battle of Shiloh.
April 14, 1862: Union forces begin the Penninsula Campaign.
August 30, 1862: Confederate forces win the 2nd Battle of Bull Run.
September 17, 1862: Union forces win the Battle of Antietam.
September 22, 1862: The Emancipation Proclomation is issued.
December 13, 1862: Confederate forces win the Battle of Fredericksburg.
February 24, 1863: The New Mexico Territory is organized.
February 24, 1863: The Arizona Territory is organized.
May 4, 1863: Confederate forces win the Battle of Chancellorsville.
June 20, 1863: West Virginia is the 35th state admitted to the Union. On June 20, 1863, the wartime state of West Virginia was born by acceptance of the federal government.
July 1, 1863: The Battle of Ghettysburg begins.
July 3, 1863: Union forces win the Battle Ghettysburg.
July 4, 1863: Union forces capture Vicksburg, thereby taking the entire Mississippi River (2nd part of the Anaconda Plan).
November 25, 1863: Union forces win the Battle of Chattanooga.
May 26, 1864: The Idaho Territory is organized.
May 26, 1864: The Montana Territory is organized.
September 1, 1864: Union forces take Atlanta.
October 31, 1864: Nevada is the 36th state admitted to the Union. On October 31, 1864, at the urging of President Abraham Lincoln, Nevada became a state. Only a short four years earlier, it had been a wilderness.
November 16, 1864: Union forces begin the “march to the sea”, from Atlanta to Savanah.
February 1, 1865: The 13th Amendment is passed by Congress.
March 4, 1865: Abraham Lincoln is sworn in as President for a 2nd term.
March 4, 1865: Andrew Johnson is sworn in as the 16th Vice President of the United States.
March 21, 1865: Union forces finish the “march to the sea” (by taking Savanah, Georgia).
April 2, 1865: The fleeing Confederate government sets fire to Richmond.
April 3, 1865: Union forces occupy the Confederate capital, Richmond (3rd part of the Anaconda Plan).
April 9, 1865: The Confederate States of America surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, ending the Civil War.

How Did Photographers Follow Armies During the Civil War?

Photography was invented in France by Joesph Niepce around 1827. The process used to obtain pictures at that time took eight hours. By the 1840s, another Frenchman by the name of Louis Daguerre had streamlined the procedure. The new technique reduced the processing time to less than a half hour.

The first war photographed was the Mexican American War in the late 1840s. By the time of the American Civil War in 1861, a British inventor named William Henry Fox Talbot had come up with a way to produce photographs from negatives. In this way, a number of prints could be obtained from one negative. Although the Civil War was, in fact, the fourth war to be photographed, it was the first war to be photographed extensively.

At the time of the Civil War, it took two people to take one photograph. They traveled by horse and wagon, following the troops and the combat. The photographer and his assistant would arrive at the battlefield. Typically, the assistant would mix the chemicals needed for the picture and spread them on a glass plate. The chemicals would evaporate and the glass plate was then dipped into another chemical solution while being hidden from light. In the meantime, the photographer selected the subject of the picture and focused the camera. The plate was then put in the camera and the photographer quickly exposed it to the subject. The plate was then hurried into the darkroom. A wagon that accompanied the photographic team served this function. Despite the primitive conditions of the battlefield and the fact that the glass plates had to be handled carefully, more than 2,000 photos taken by newspaper and army photographers have survived from that war. Due to the time element of the photo-taking process, most of the pictures are not action photos. But even those taken after a battle were enough to reveal the reality of war.

At that time, photography was not yet common. For many newspaper readers, it was the first time that they had ever seen pictures of the famous personalities from the war such as General Robert E. Lee, General Ulysses S. Grant and PresidentAbraham Lincoln. In addition, the horrors of war, such as the dead and wounded soldiers and men being executed, were daily newspaper fare.

The most famous photographer of the Civil War, Mathew Brady, is considered the father of photojournalism. He oversaw a ream of photographers that he dispatched around the country, providing them with darkroom wagons at his own expense. In this manner, Brady was able to document the progress of the war in its various theaters. In addition, he kept a diary of his experiences as a war photographer. This journal is still being studied by historians to learn more about the war and that period.

Another photographer of note was a former first lieutenant by the name of Timothy Sullivan. As a teenager, he had worked for Brady. After his honorable discharge from the army, Sullivan rejoined Brady’s team. One of his most famous pictures, “A Harvest of Death”, shows dead soldiers lying on the Gettysburg battlefield on July 4, 1863.

In the 1960s, it was discovered that some of the photos from the Civil War had been staged. Bodies had been dragged to nearby locations and photographed there in order to give the picture more poignancy or to illustrate what the photographer wanted the viewers to see. For example, a photographer who wanted to show a lone sharpshooter perched in a crevice might drag the corpse of an infantryman from the battlefield and position it in the crevice for the picture. But for the most part, the photographs from the Civil War are authentic. They enable people more than 130 years later to obtain a visual image of that four-year-long conflict that divided a nation.

Role of Jewish Americans During the Civil War

No one would disagree that Jewish Americans have made immeasurable contributions to the life and welfare of the United States of America. Yet while their contribution and participation in education and the media is well known, many people are unfamiliar with the varied experiences and roles of Jews during the American Civil War. This was a formative period for American Jewry, and it evidences the highs and the lows that have been a part of Jewish life.

The presence of Jews in the northern United States is a fact with universally recognized, but they also been an active part of the American South. Jews first came to the southern states in the late 17th century, and some of the earliest Jewish communities in America were founded in South Carolina and Georgia. It is no surprise, then, that Jews played a significant part in the American Civil War on both sides of the conflict.

Although Jews had served in the armed forces of the United States prior to the Civil War, it was not until the War Between the States that Jews were admitted as chaplains for the military. In the North, Jacob Frankel, leader of the Rodeph Shalom Congregation in Philadelphia, became the first Jewish chaplain in 1862, joining ranks that were previously open only to Christians. He was not the only Jew to hold an important position during the period, yet we have to look South to find the most notable Jew of the American Civil War.

Judah Philip Benjamin and the American Civil War

The most famous American Jew from the Civil War period is Judah Philip Benjamin. Benjamin was born in the West Indies in 1811, raised in Charleston, South Carolina, and later became a United States Senator from Louisiana. When the Confederate States of America seceded in 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis chose Benjamin for the position of Attorney General, but Benjamin would move on to serve as Secretary of War and then later, Secretary of State.

Interestingly, Benjamin seems to have taken the blame willingly on several occasions for the missteps of the Confederacy even though he did not deserve it. He also proposed that the Southern states free any slave who volunteered to fight for the Confederacy, an idea that Southern citizens rejected soundly. Benjamin fled to England at the end of the Civil War, for many people unfairly blamed him for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and he is today buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Given the racism associated with the American South, it is ironic that the most notorious example of anti-Semitism occurred under the watch of a Northern general. In December of 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant issued an order calling for the expulsion of all Jews from Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. He appears to have been frustrated in trying to control Northern access to Southern cotton and was reacting to the involvement of some Jews in that industry. In any case, Abraham Lincoln went on to order Grant to rescind the order only a month later, and despite the incident, Grant later enjoyed the support of many Jews in his run for the presidency of the United States.